Categories: seizures

My cat has developed sensitivity to clicking sounds causing twitching

by Antoinette Worrall
(Birmingham England)

My cat has developed very sensitive hearing to clicking sounds causing him to twitch and today he had what could be described as a small fit.

I was about to feed him and he was sitting on the table as usually waiting. I was scrapping the leftovers from the tin with a fork and the sound it was making caused him to repeatedly twitch and as I stop it, he starting to run around in a circle.

I took him off the table and he tried to run away but was not in control of his body and still continued to try and run round in a circle.

I tried to hold him because he was heading for the wall and in doing so it appears as though he was having difficulties with his mouth and his tongue.

I held the wee chap until it passed which only took seconds. This was extremely upsetting to witness. I have booked him in with the vet today.

This sensitive hearing started to occur when his brother died on July 10. As time has gone on he has become more and more sensitive to any clicking sound especially the computer mouse.

Please let me know if you have heard anything like this before and what is it. Inner ear problem? He has no other health issues. He is generally a very happy/healthily cat (13 years old).


Hi Antoinette…. thanks for sharing and asking.

I am at a disadvantage as you are going to the vet soon.

Note: this page has been updated regularly as comments come it. The page was written around 4 years ago and since then a new condition has been named called Feline Audiogenic Reflex Seizures. (FARS). This is a form of epilepsy more common in older cats and Birmans. The words that follow were also largely written 4 years ago. — Michael (Admin)

Nonetheless, as you have asked, I will answer as best as I can but this is theoretical based on what you have said.

I don’t think it is connected to the loss of his brother except for the fact that this condition appears to be linked to age. The comments indicate it occurs in elderly cats. Perhaps the loss of his brother knocked him back emotionally and that brought this condition on. I have not found anything in the textbooks which refer to increased sensitivity to sound.

He may have encephalitis, a brain infection but I think this is unlikely. This is because he has a behavioral and personality change which goes wider than hearing problems. However having read the comments it appears to be linked to a change in brain function brought about by a degeneration of the brain due to old age. That is a guess obviously.

Update: I believe this condition is related to old age and associated changes in the brain but that is just a personal theory. More and more comments come in from caretakers of elderly cats (17th Sept 2015).

Click on this link to read more.

For the sake of completeness, Encephalitis can be brought on by:

Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIV)

Panleukopenia – feline distemper

Feline Leukemia – signs. FeLV

Rabies (this does not apply because rabies as been eradicated in the UK).


Toxoplasmosis can also cause encephalitis. This is caused by a protozoan

Bacteria can also cause encephalitis.

A fungal infection (Cryptococcus) can also cause it.

The treatment is dependent on the cause.

I won’t go any further as you are seeing a vet who can make a far better diagnosis with your cat in front of him and the full force of his/her training behind him

Good luck to you both.

Update: Please see the comment by Mel at base of page. Very interesting. This may be a case of hypersensitivity to vibrations caused by sound due to deafness.


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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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  • I worked in veterinary medicine for years about 15 years ago and have seen many seizures in cats(and dogs) but never remember linking sound to them. Just rescued a new cat and a new vacuum and sure enough she has what appear to be small seizures as soon as you turn it on and recovers a few minutes after it stops. Obviously I don't want to repeat this but we did confirm it twice. The only difference is the age, she is roughly 2 years old. I know people are thinking it's just a weird reaction to the vacuum not a seizure and I would be one of you but the fact is I have literally seen about a thousand different animal seizures in regular and emergency veterinary hospitals over 10 plus years of veterinary (head surg tech) work. Wondering if anyone has heard of it happening to such a young cat and I will be sure to post any updates as far as other sounds. I do remember the lawn mower from the gardener causing a reaction but was watching TV and not even thinking about seizures but will be watching more closely now. Thank you for starting this page and to the vets who finally linked sound and seizures it is really a sight you have to see to believe!

  • Get the cat tested for toxoplasmosis. I had an older cat that started with those exact symptoms and eventually had a seizure. He also had a weird discharge like fluid in his eyes (under the lense) that looked almost like a glass marble that several vets (and also veterinary research professors) could not diagnose. When he had he seizure, we took him to the emergency vet and the vet suggested toxoplasmosis. They tested him and it came out positive. He improved after a round of antibiotics.

  • I just wanted to share that my female, indoor cat, age 15, started twitching as well, recently. She's slso become extremely affectionate with me and more tolerant of my five year old daughter loving on her. At night, she has started meowing for me to pet her, and will pat me with her paw if I stop, or she'll even give me a little love bite. Noises cause her to twitch and if they don't stop, she jumps off the bed and drops low to the ground. I never witnessed a seizure, but once or twice in the last year, her back leg(s) gave out on her for a few seconds.

    The recent "twitching" began after I gave her a topical flea treatment from the vet. She had been showing signs of fleas, quick bursts of running, then stops to chew on her hind quarters, and then was vomiting a serious amount of furballs. Once I gave the treatment, the "flea" symptoms stopped but the twitching started. Feel bad for her, but she tucks in closer to me now to sleep and lounge, so I just love her back.

    Glad I found this site. It gave me some insight. Thanks.

    • Thanks for the interesting extra bit of information about the flea treatment possibly kicking off the sensitivity to clicking sounds. It is certainly possible because flea treatments are insecticides which affect the flea's nervous system and can affect the cat's nervous system too which ties in with my theory that this condition is linked to brain function and old age.

  • I am so glad I came upon this website. I was searching to understand why my cat had a seizure last night. Sabrina is 17 years young - still bright but slowing down a bit. She has been sensitive to the clicking/kissing sounds for about a year. Last night she jumped on the ottoman and forgetting that she is sensitive to the kissing sound, I made it. She twitched, walked in circles - which I thought she was chasing her tail as she does every so often, jumped off the ottoman still circling and then dropped. I screamed, I thought she was dying and not breathing. Good thing my husband was there to calm me and Sabrina. Unfortunately, he did receive a bite or two and then her seizure stopped. She was disoriented and after about an hour started coming back to us and was eating and meowing as normal. She has been howling lately a lot lately, too and I have noticed her hearing has definitely diminished. I truly believe that after this seizure, there is very little she can now hear. I don't want to take her to the vet - not yet. She becomes very agitated and she is just too old to upset so I'll wait. If the seizures continue,then I will take her to see what they have to say. My sweet baby is such a joy in our lives, it's so hard to see her this way. Thanks everyone for sharing your stories, you have shed some light on my little girls situation.

  • My 18 or old cat had her 1st seizure on Jan 1st 2015. A few months before that she would not eat her hard food, that's all she ever ate, or drink her water. I took her to the vet and they said she was dehydrated and kept her 2 nights. When she came home i started giving her wet food with the option of dry food too. Half cans as needed, so it didn't dry out. She got better. The seizures happen about every 4-6 months and last about 30 seconds but are scary. I just pet her and not let her hurt herself. I softly & lovingly talk to her and pet her while it's happening. We were not sure what caused it until we noticed she twitched every time a bag crinkled, we clapped our hands, or any tinking noise. After she has a seizier she looks dizzy or sometimes can't stand for about 5 min. Once she even walked in circles even though she was trying to walk straight. We have not taken her to the vet because lack of money and she seems to be fine after 10 minutes or so. We try to keep the noises that affect her to a very minimum. Even at Christmas she had to go in the room while opened gifts because the sounds of the wrapping paper was bothering her. She is not deaf or blind, just old. I'm glad to know it's not just my cat and it happens in older cats like mine. I will continue to avoid noises that trigger episodes and spoil her.
    3 months ago she wasn't eating her food again so I tried a new brand of wet food, that she now loves... As long as I change the flavors each time. I also change her water twice a day.
    Bless all our fur babies.

    • Hi Jessica. Thanks for reporting on your cat's seizures. Your story supports my suggestion that this condition is age related. I think you are doing right in simply avoiding making the type of noises which cause the seizures. That is about all you can do in fact. The best of luck. Wet food is better than dry. I only use dry for nighttime grazing. Otherwise my cat only eats wet. It avoids dehydration. Most cats on permanent dry cat food are mildly dehydrated it is believed.

  • Dear Michael,

    I'm so glad to find that I'm not the only person with a pusscat suffering from twitches due to sound.

    Lucy has just turned 15, is sadly at stage 2-3 renal failure but still quite chirpy considering. She started to react to the computer mouse clicking a couple of months ago, and in the last few weeks from the kissy sound. She hasn't had a seizure I don't think but I would imagine continued noises could do it.
    I thought it may be due to being injured on the road a long time ago, ever since then she has had spots of pigmentation growing on the coloured part of her eyes and I wondered if it may be a slow bleed on the brain. A vet told me once a bleed may be the cause of the pigmentation, other vets didn't know. She can see fine as far as i'm aware and has always carried out night howling from when she was small - only lasts a minute or so after lights out - always a two sylable meow - like she's trying to say 'he llo' - hilarious. One last thing to mention, I noticed about a year ago if I stroke around one of her ears too much she looks like she may start to twitch so I then stop - this may or may not be significant?
    Thank you for your research on this subject, I feel forarmed and will definately try massage should a seizure occur.
    Best wishes

    • Hi Janet. The more I hear about this condition the more I am convinced it is due changes in the brain in old cats - a sort of side effect of cat dementia. Most comments come from people who care for old cats. You mention that she looks like she is going to twitch when you stroke around one of her ears. This may be significant. It may simply be sound again. The sound caused by stroking near the ear. This condition is very sound sensitive. Thanks Janet for sharing as it adds to the sum total of our knowledge about this condition which is important as vets don't yet understand it.

  • Hi there. I'm so glad to have stumbled across this forum!! We have an elderly cat, I'm ex vet nurse and it IS absolutely sound induced seizures. It's most odd but my son brought the first seizure on by tapping on his iPad. Lots of yelling for me from son and we decided not to do anything about it as our cat is so old. Most likely has a level of dementia due to other behaviour issues. He's almost 18 and very happy with his lot in life. He's just started reacting to foil though I've noticed this morning. Ears twitching, legs twitching physically moves away from the noise. He's not deaf that we're aware of, when he starts his midnight yowling he'll stop if you yell shut up, if he continues means you forgot to top up the food! Glad to hear I'm not the only one but sad as well. It is a most bizarre occurrence.

      • I have 2 cats who are 15 years old and sisters. A couple of years ago one started running and twitching and acting like something was chasing her or like she had been stung in the hind area by something. After examination I found nothing, no fleas or anything...after several episodes of this I began giving her massages which settled her twitching and she calmed down. In the past few months her sister began having seizures. We took her to the vet and our vet said older cats sometimes have seizures. Over the past few months I've noticed that she twitches to noise and so does her sister who we thought was deaf. The sensitivity to sound has progressively gotten worse and today as she sat on my lap I made a popping noise with my lips and it caused serious twitching, her eyes dilated and I could see that something terrible was happening to her because the twitching was very bad. I immediately grabbed her and rubbed her, talking very soft to her and her eyes returned to normal and she quit twitching. The twitching is most definitely related to sound and now that I've read through all of these posts, her seizures probably are too. At least now I can try to limit the noises that cause her seizures, I wish there was more I could do.

          • Michael I've read everything, all the links you've posted and the survey along with the study results. I printed it all out and I'm taking it to my vet, along with both of my cats to see if I can get a Rx for the medication. My cat's twitching is slowly getting worse so if that med can slow it down or stop it I want to give it a try. And my vet needs to be informed about this disorder. I'm sure I'm not the only one around here who has cats with this problem.

  • I am so glad to come across this page. We have a 13-year old cat who has been so healthy all her life. A few months ago she began twitching in response to crackly noises. Shortly after that, she got a bad upper respiratory infection, and we attributed the twitching to maybe having fluid in her ears. At the vet, there was no evidence of ear infection, but they gave her a shot of antibiotics for the infection and had us add lysine to her food. She got over the infection, and in fact was more active and playful than she had been in years. A couple of weeks ago, though, my husband was stirring something in a hard plastic glass and she had a full-out seizure. We again took her to the vet. Several blood tests later, all the test results were normal. I found a couple of postings online that perhaps lysine overdose symptoms could involve seizures, so we stopped giving it to her. She has returned to being sedentary and still twitches at crinkly sounds and other tapping noises, but so far no more seizures in the past 12 days. We are baffled, as is the vet. The vet's only additional recommendation was that we could take her to a feline neurologists for a brain scan, but given her age we have chosen not to put her through that. I am curious about this, and will continue to check back to see if other's experiences are added.
    To Resa - my sincerest condolences on your loss. I pray for comfort for you.

  • Hi it's been awhile, well Micki has gone to the rainbow bridge, I sure miss her, still look for her, It's been a week, I was on my way out the door to go visit my Husband in the nursing home when she had another seizure, She didn't bounce back like she did before, so I knew it was time, Took her to the vet, and they agreed it would be cruel to keep her any longer, I had that sweet girl for almost 20 years, the vet was impressed at her age and that she had only been sick (or depressed) for 6 months, it was her time, :( No I won't get another for awhile my life is going through changes, maybe when I am settled,
    I have the house up for sale, I wanted Micki to live out her life here, it's the only home she knew, and it's easier to find an apt when there are no pets to worry about,

    • Ahh, Resa, so sorry to hear this. My condolences. She looks wonderful in the photo. She had a long life. You will always remember her clearly as if it were yesterday.

      Thanks for updating us.

  • my 10 year old Maine Coon cat had a seizure when she heard me clicking a pen on and off. she twirled around started jerking her head back and forth her legs were moving fast in a running motion while she was laying on her side. she was breathing heavenly and her heart was racing fast and she was drooling from her mouth and her eyes were fully dilated this lasted for 2 minutes. It took her an hour to bounce back to her sweet personality. she is fine but tired from the seizure. I will take her to the vet in a couple of days. If you find any information to cure these events please forward the information to me. Thanks!

    • Hi Coco. There is something happening that we don't understand at the moment. I think research needs to be done into this because it may show up something that we, as cat caretakers, are unaware of. Your vet will be very good if he is able to provide a full and plausible diagnosis. He'll probably just say don't click pens of rustle plastic ;) . Good luck though.

      I'll do some more work on this myself and thanks for posting. If you have more info please come back and share in another comment which will be published immediately.

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